New Balance HI-VIZ Beacon Jacket

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Manufacturer Description

Like a beacon of light, the High-Visibility Beacon Jacket features three levels of visibility details, making you visible from top to bottom. The low-light visibility comes from the bright green gecko color, blending safety with style. The oncoming-light visibility comes from the 360-degree reflective trim, so you’ll be more than one kind of flashy when the headlights and streetlights hit you at night. The no-light visibility comes from the revolutionary glow-in-the-dark technology on the sleeves and back: charge the Beacon Jacket under light and you’re ready to go, and ready to glow, day or night.

Features

  • Material: 86% Polyester and 14% Spandex
  • Drop back hem
  • Glow-in-the dark gradient dot screen print graphic at sleeve, back panel, and logo
  • Interior media pocket for storage
  • Reflective logos and trims
  • The surface of the garment incorporates glow-in-the-dark technology the must be charged prior to each use through clear exposure of all glow-in-the-dark material sections to bright natural or indoor lighting. It is recommended that the garment be charged for at least 10 minutes prior to use to endure its effective performance; then wear and glow!
  • Two secure zip pockets
  • Wind-resistant
  • Tested size Medium
    • Measured weight – 308 g (10.9 oz)
    • Pit to Pit – 54.2 cm (21.3 in)
    • Center Back – 73.7 cm (29.0 in)
    • Sleeve Length – 93.9 cm (37.0 in)
  • Retail – $175

YMMV Review

New Balance has a long history. The company has been around for over 100 years, starting way back in 1906. Their start and bread and butter is definitely footwear. In fact, I have reviewed several pairs of their running shoes for the website. This is the first piece of apparel that I have reviewed for the site. A while back at the Outdoor Retailer Show I first saw the Beacon Jacket. It was something I had never seen done, but it made sense as long as it worked. Thanks to New Balance I was able to test it out this winter.

Front View - Click to See Larger
Front View – Click to See Larger

Testing

I do not know about everyone else, but it is hard to run in the winter months without it being in low-light conditions. I leave for work at sunrise and get home at or after sunset. This means plenty of runs in the dark, and this worked out perfectly for this particular test. I was able to use the jacket in a variety of temperatures from the 50s down into the teens. Depending on these temperatures, I layered the jacket over thinner and thicker baselayers. Most of my runs were in good weather, but I did have one or two snowy runs, no rain, however.

Back View  - Click to See Larger
Back View – Click to See Larger

Design ★★★½☆

Appearance (20%) ★★★☆☆

Construction (30%) ★★★½☆

Materials (30%) ★★★★½

Sustainability (10%) ★☆☆☆☆

Weight (10%) ★★★☆☆

The Beacon Jacket is made to be exactly that. A highly visible jacket so when you are running, you are seen. To do that, New Balance has started by making this jacket a bright green. They did not stop there either. The Beacon has reflective hems and reflective elements throughout, but this is not what sets this jacket apart.  The back, upper arms and logo on the chest are made of a glow in the dark screen print technology. All you need to do is get the jacket charged for at least 10 minutes before your run, then go and glow.

Wrist Cuff - Click to See Larger
Wrist Cuff – Click to See Larger

The New Balance Beacon Jacket is made of a polyester spandex mix to give it wind resistance and stretch. The jacket uses Lightning Dry fabric technology for improved moisture management. New Balance has finished all the seams and hems to make it as comfortable as possible.  According to New Balance, the jacket is semi-fitted which they define as following the contours of your body while allowing for ease of movement. There is a full-length  zipper in the front that has a draft flap behind it and a chin guard at the top.  The Beacon also has two zip hand warmer pockets. Inside the right one is a drop in media pocket and media port, which fits a cell phone.  The jacket feels very solid and well made. It feels nice and light which I think is also important.

The one thing that the Beacon Jacket is not is made of renewable materials. I do give credit to New Balance for some of the things, and that is why I gave them a rating of one.

Glowing In the Dark - Click to See Larger
Glowing In the Dark – Click to See Larger

Fit ★★★☆☆

Adjustability (10%) ★½☆☆☆

Arm Length (20%) ★★★★☆

Comfort (25%) ★★★½☆

Cuff (10%) ★★★☆☆

Ease of Movement (15%) ★★★½☆

Torso Sizing (20%) ★★½☆☆

For most outdoor gear, I am safe when testing a size medium. On the other hand, for most of my daily clothing I am a small. In this case, I chose to test a medium and must say it ran slightly on the larger side.  The Beacon is said to be semi-fit, and I wish I would have tested a small.  Through the torso, the jacket had a bit of extra room. This was especially obvious when I put my phone in the pocket. While the sleeve kept it from moving around in the pocket, it felt like it bounced a bit more than it would have with a better fitting jacket.  I did like the length of the jacket; it had plenty of coverage. Enough so that it would even work as a cycling jacket, especially if the fit was a little tighter.  The sleeves are nice and long, even in a smaller size, they still would have been a great length. The sleeves, like the torso, was a bit on the larger side in volume. This theme also was consistent in the wrist cuffs. They could have been slightly tighter.

The Fabric - Click to See Larger
The Fabric – Click to See Larger

Now what I did like was the fabric chosen for the jacket. The jacket has a good amount of stretch and to go with the looser fit on me; the jacket definitely did not impair my movement at all. Even if it felt big, the jacket was still was plenty comfortable. All the seams are finished off so they never rubbed or caused any issues.  The one thing that was missing from the Beacon Jacket was being able to make any adjustments to the sizing. Whether this is a cord at the hem or even at the wrists. Since the jacket felt a little big on me, I wish I could have tightened it up. In the right size, I may not be as critical.

Performance ★★★★☆

Breathability (15%) ★★★★☆

Durability (15%) ★★★½☆

Pockets (10%) ★★★☆☆

Visibility (25%) ★★★☆☆

Warmth (20%) ★★★☆☆

Weather Resistance (15%) ★★★½☆

What the Beacon Jacket did was perform. I really liked many aspects of this jacket. The jacket is an excellent combination of breathability and wind resistance. What I mean by that is the fabric blocks some of the wind but not all. This allows the jacket to still breath which for me is very important as I tend to overheat. I used the Beacon Jacket in a variety of temperatures and was able to make it work by choosing different baselayers to wear underneath. While I did use the jacket on a couple of snowy runs, it really is not made for really wet runs. It can handle snow or a light rain but really not much more than that. It is not the warmest jacket, and it really is not made to be. That is where the layering can make a big difference.

Bottom hem - Click to See Larger
Bottom hem – Click to See Larger

The Beacon Jacket has two pockets which I really like. When running jackets do not have pockets it throws me off. Not that I use them a lot when I run but more before and after, especially if I have to stand or walk around. The inside media sleeve is a great idea. It did a good job of keeping my phone secure. It only bounced around due to the jacket feeling a bit on the large side as I described above. Being able to run the wire under the jacket is also a great feature. All athletic jackets should allow you to do this.

Now the most important part of this particular jacket is the visibility. With a name like Beacon Jacket, it sets the bar pretty high. I must say that no matter when you wear this jacket you will seen, it really is that visible. The gecko green color is bright and really pops when it is light out. When the sun goes down there are plenty of reflective strips for when light shines on you. What really sets the jacket apart is the glow in the dark print. I was worried when I first got the jacket that the glow in the dark was going to be a bit more of a gimick. I was pleasantly surprised when I really worked. It was much brighter than I expected. I tried to capture it in photos, but it really does not show how bright the jacket is to the naked eye. This jacket is really cool.New Balance Beacon Jacket - Pocket

Overall ★★★½☆

Overall if I would have tested the small, I think this could have been one of my favorites. That said it still is a really good jacket. The fabric mix is excellent, especially if you want to use it in a variety of conditions. It has two solid pockets, and I guess I wish it had one more on the chest, but this is not a deal breaker. Of course, the main thing about this jacket is the visibility, and it really did live up to its name. All it took was ten or so minutes in the light, and you had plenty of life to it.  If fully charged you can get around two hours of solid glowing. I am not in full training mode right now so none of my runs were that long. I would definitely recommend this jacket but would suggest sizing down if you are between sizes. The New Balance Beacon Jacket retails for $175, and you get some features you will not see anywhere else. As always, Your Mileage May Vary.

Pros [field name=iFrame]

  • Mix of breathabilty and wind resistance
  • Internal media sleeve and cable routing
  • Plenty of Reflective accents
  • Glow in the dark really works

Cons

  • Runs a bit large
  • Could use a chest pocket

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About the Author

I am an avid runner, cyclist, swimmer, hiker, climber, skier and many other activities that would make this list too long. I started Your Mileage May Vary Reviews in Early 2011 to combine two of my passions: sports and gear.

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